Dirty Dozen List has No Scientific Basis

Dirty Dozen List has No Scientific Basis

March 24, 2017

Ag Industry Pushes Back on EWG Dirty Dozen List

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The Environmental Working Group, headquartered in Washington D.C., with a local California office in San Francisco, has released its annual Dirty Dozen list. Topping the list again are strawberries, followed by spinach and many other fresh produce items.

The California agricultural industry is puzzled by the list because EWG provides no scientific evidence of residues on any of the itemized produce, according to Theresa Thorne, the newly named executive director of the Watsonville, California-based organization Alliance for Food and Farming.

The AFF exists to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of fruits and vegetables, and to counteract misinformation like EWG's Dirty Dozen list.

Thorne explained, “We really try and work to provide science-based information to consumers so that facts — not fears — can guide their shopping choices. You just can't, year after year, continue to call safe and healthy fruits and vegetables ‘dirty.’ Nevertheless, EWG has been doing this since 1995. So every year, we work aggressively to put our information out there to counter the misinformation that EWG puts out, so people can make the right shopping choices for their families.”

According to Thorne, the EWG manipulates data issued by the well-known government-issued USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Pesticide Data Program implemented through cooperation with state agriculture departments and other federal agencies. According to the USDA AMS website, “The PDP data show, overall, that pesticide residues on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pose no safety concern.”

“But EWG goes through and manipulates that data,” Thorne said. “Even if there is some minute amount of residues detected, they are below safety threshold levels set by the EPA. According to a toxicologist from the Personal Chemical Exposure Program Department of Entomology at University of California, Riverside, you can eat an excessive amount of strawberries in a day, and still not have any health effects from residues. That's how low residues are if they're even present.”


Alliance for Food & Farming (AFF)

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SafeFruitsandVeggies.com Pesticide Residue Calculator

  • Scientists and health experts overwhelmingly agree that the mere presence of pesticide residues on food does not mean they are harmful.
  • Use facts, not fear, to make healthy food choices
  • Health experts and scientists say produce, grown either conventionally or organically, is safe to eat for you and your children. Not only are conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables safe and nutritious, Americans should be consuming more of these, not less, if they hope to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Pesticide Data Program (PDP)

  • Pesticide data Program (PDP) is a national pesticide residue-monitoring program and produces the most comprehensive pesticide residue database in the U.S.

Personal Chemical Exposure Program (PCEP) Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside